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Attorney For Andre Hill's Family Questions Police Actions After Shooting

Breonna Taylor family attorney Ben Crump, center speaks during a news conference, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Louisville, Ky.  Crump is now representing the family of Andre Hill in Columbus.
Darron Cummings
Associated Press
Breonna Taylor family attorney Ben Crump, center speaks during a news conference, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. Crump is now representing the family of Andre Hill in Columbus.

Ahead of a candelight vigil on Saturday, civil rights attorney Ben Crump held a snowy press conference with the family of Andre Hill outside the Brentnell Recreation Center in east Columbus. “Put your fist in the sky,” Crump led the crowd in chanting. “Get em up, raise 'em high.”

Columbus Police officer Adam Coy fatally shot Hill during a non-emergency call early December 22, while neglecting to activate his body camera and administer first aid. Coy faces the possibility of being fired as soon as Monday, when he's scheduled for a disciplinary hearing with the city Public Safety Director.

Crump, who has also represented the families of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, is working with local attorneys to pursue a wrongful death civil suit over Hill's killing.

Once the crowd was charged up, Crump handed the bullhorn over to Karissa Hill, the daughter of Andre Hill.

“The people that we trust—or that we’re supposed to trust—are the ones that killed my father,” Karissa Hill said through tears. “Jesus," a woman from the crowd blurted out in exasperation. 

Sobbing, Karissa Hill described how difficult it has been to explain what happened to her own son.

“I couldn’t explain to him why big daddy wasn’t coming home,” she said. “And I’m supposed to tell my son to trust these police officers when they’re the ones taking these Black people away, innocently.”

Crump reflected on the irony that, beneath Hill’s jacket, he was wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt when he was shot.

“It immediately made me think about Trayvon Martin, and the hoodie that had the bullet hole in it,” Crump said. “When we see the bullet in the Black Lives Matter shirt, how far have we come, America? How far have we come?”

Crump suggested that other Columbus officers on the scene ready to align their stories to protect one another. Hill’s brother, Alvin Williamson, claims the family was shown a longer version of the body camera footage released to the public.

“After the officer went back to his vehicle, he said to the other officer, ‘I need to figure out what the f— I’m going to say,’” Williamson said.

“And what did his partner say?” Crump asked.

“'I got you,'” Williamson answered. “His partner replied, ‘I got you.’”

That interaction does not occur in the tape released publicly. Police insist no other tapes have been released publicly or to the family. In the bodycam https://youtu.be/_hf9lFedN3A">video provided by the Columbus Department of Public Safety, about 7.5 minutes after the shooting, another officer walks Coy back to a squad car.

"I'm trying to figure out what I missed," Coy tells him. The officer replies, "We'll take care of that, I promise you. We're not gotta say anything about that right this second."

Coy shuts off his bodycam 12 minutes after the shooting, after receiving permission from a sergeant on the scene.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation into Hill's death, and U.S. Attorney Dave DeVillers said he will review the case for possible civil rights violations.

Following calls from Mayor Andrew Ginther, activists and other city officials, Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan on Thursday recommended that the city fire Coy. Monday's hearing will include Coy, his legal and union representation, and Public Safety Director Ned Pettus, who will make the ultimate decision about Coy's discipline.

"Andre Hill should be with his family this holiday," Quinlan wrote in his recommendation. "I ask this community to wrap their arms around his family, and join me in praying for their comfort."

Quinlan said a separate investigation has been opened into the other officers at the scene who failed to turn on their body cameras or administer aid to Hill.

Editors note: this story has been updated to include police contention that only one unedited tape has been released to the public and family.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.